ZenBusiness was founded in 2015, and since then this Texas-based company has helped form thousands of businesses. Their stated goal is to form one million new business entities in the next five years, which is obviously quite the lofty goal.
There are dozens of companies online that will help you form a limited liability company, but ZenBusiness has already established themselves as one of the top LLC formation services available.
This ZenBusiness LLC service review takes an in-depth look at the details of their offering to help you determine if they’re the right choice to help form your new business.
Advantages & Disadvantages
Advantages of ZenBusiness:
- Do you know of any other companies offering free LLC formation service? Neither do we! You might expect there to be a catch involved, but there isn’t ― the ZenBusiness Basic plan really is free, except for your state fee.
- Two of their three paid plans are also solid bargains, like their Starter package that includes registered agent service for a total of $10 per month.
- Customer feedback is a major strength for ZenBusiness. Even though they’re a relatively recent addition to the LLC formation industry, they already have hundreds of reviews, and nearly all of them are positive.
Disadvantages of ZenBusiness:
- The major issue with ZenBusiness is that they only offer support via web chat. There is no option for phone support, or even email ― it’s either web chat or nothing.
- Their website is very basic, and it can be surprisingly difficult to find the information you need when navigating the site.
- While there may be some advantages to being a young company, it’s hard to avoid the fact that ZenBusiness simply doesn’t have nearly as much experience as many of their competitors do.
- Their Premium package costs twice as much as their Pro package, but it adds very few features to justify the price point.
ZenBusiness LLC Formation Packages
With ZenBusiness, you have four options for LLC formation service: Basic, Starter, Pro, and Premium. To review the full details of each package for yourself, check out the breakdown below.
Basic = $0 + State Fee
- Name Availability Search: ZenBusiness will search through the business database of your formation state in order to determine whether the business name you want is available, or if it’s already claimed by another entity.
- Preparation and Filing of Articles of Organization: These documents are the forms required by the state to formally create your new LLC. ZenBusiness will draft your articles of organization, then file them with your state of formation.
Starter = $10/month + State Fee
Includes everything from the Basic package, plus…
- Registered Agent Service: Every LLC operating in America is required to designate a registered agent, which is a person or business entity that receives important document deliveries from the state on behalf of your business, then forwards them to you. ZenBusiness will provide this service continuously, as long as you keep paying your annual fee.
Pro = $30/month + State Fee
Includes everything from the Starter package, plus…
- Sample Operating Agreement: An operating agreement is a document that outlines the ownership structure of your business, along with laying some ground rules for the way your company will operate. ZenBusiness will provide a customizable template to help you create your own operating agreement.
- Federal Tax ID Number (EIN): An EIN is similar to a Social Security Number for your business entity. It’s a nine-digit numerical code that enables your LLC to open business bank accounts, hire employees, file taxes, and more. You can obtain an EIN from the IRS for free, but with this feature ZenBusiness will acquire one for you.
- Worry Free Guarantee: This feature includes the preparation and filing of your annual report, along with two amendments per year. In addition, if you ever miss a filing deadline with your state, ZenBusiness will help you regain your good standing.
- Domain Name Registration: They will obtain a domain name for your company to use for a website, along with a domain management dashboard tool.
- Expedited Filing: ZenBusiness will prioritize your LLC’s document filings above customers who use their Basic or Starter packages.
- CPA Consultation: A risk-free session with a Certified Public Accountant to discuss the accounting and taxation requirements for your new business.
Premium = $60/month + State Fee
Includes everything from the Pro package, plus…
- Rush Filing Speed: ZenBusiness will prioritize your LLC’s document filings above those of all their other customers.
- Domain Name Privacy: This feature helps to hide your personal information from becoming publicly available as part of your domain name filing.
- Business Email Address: Receive one email account with 5GB of storage space.
- Business Bank Account: A bank account through Radius Bank.
- Xero Accounting Software and Monthly Accounting Services
- Free Insurance Quote
ZenBusiness Customer Reviews
Even though ZenBusiness has only been around for a few short years, they already have a pretty healthy sample size when it comes to customer feedback. We always advise taking a look at a few reviews to get a feel for a company’s customer experience, so let’s see what ZenBusiness clients have to say about them.
The vast majority of ZenBusiness reviews available online are positive. In general, it seems like their customers are quite pleased with the efficiency of their services, as well as with the general ease of use provided by ZenBusiness.
- Trustpilot: 9.3 out of 10 stars (517 reviews)
Is There a Better ZenBusiness Alternative?
There are dozens of service providers offering LLC formations online, so if ZenBusiness doesn’t seem like the right choice for your business, we can probably find another service that suits your needs.
Our favorite alternative to ZenBusiness is IncFile. With pricing that starts at just $49 and includes a year of registered agent service, IncFile provides the combination of LLC formation and registered agent at a lower upfront cost than ZenBusiness does. IncFile also has plenty of experience and fabulous customer feedback.
Another option is Northwest Registered Agent, which offers LLC formation service starting at $79. Northwest also includes a year of registered agent in any formation package, and their highly personalized customer support is the best in the industry.
Finally, LegalZoom is the most popular company for LLC formations, as they’ve served millions of customers over the years. Their prices aren’t great starting at $99, especially considering that they don’t include registered agent service, but their experience is second to none.
Should You Form an LLC With ZenBusiness?
ZenBusiness certainly has plenty of positive aspects, but their services won’t be the perfect fit for every entrepreneur. With that in mind, let’s finish this review with a quick discussion on when ZenBusiness is and is not a good choice to form your LLC.
When to Use ZenBusiness:
If you’re looking to save money on your formation, without sacrificing much regarding features, give ZenBusiness a shot. Their strong customer satisfaction reputation is a great attribute as well.
When NOT to Use ZenBusiness:
If you want access to customer support via phone, or if you want to use a company that has a bit more experience, you should probably choose a competing service.
ZenBusiness has some highly competitive price points that make them a contender for any entrepreneur looking to form an LLC. We’re not crazy about their strictly web-based customer support, and there are many services with more experience, but if these aren’t priorities for you, give ZenBusiness a shot.
Frequently Asked Questions
Got questions? We’ve got answers.
Does ZenBusiness Offer Any Discounts?
They don’t provide any discounts that we’re aware of, although seeing as they already offer a formation package that’s entirely free of charge, they don’t really need to.
Does ZenBusiness Have Good Customer Support?
The quality of their support isn’t the issue. The problem is that the only way to contact them is through a web-based chat feature.
Do They Have a Refund Policy?
Sort of, but it’s a bit complicated. Here it is in their own words: “Once ZenBusiness has submitted your business for filing with the State under no circumstances can you charge-back or dispute the fees associated with forming your business.
If you contact ZenBusiness before your business has been submitted for filing with the State, ZenBusiness may refund the charge, less a $50 cancellation fee, if certain conditions are met.” We will note that they do not specify what those “certain conditions” are, only that they must be met in order for you to receive a refund.
Can I Form an LLC on My Own?
This is always an option, and quite a few entrepreneurs do form their own LLCs every day. On the other hand, some people hire business lawyers to form their LLCs, but this is a far more expensive option than using an online business formation service.
Should I Reserve My LLC Name Before Forming an LLC With ZenBusiness?
This step is unnecessary for the vast majority of our readers, but for some it is advisable. If you’re not yet ready to enter the LLC formation process, but you want to ensure that the name you want is still available when the time comes, you should reserve a name. The other situation where this is a good idea is if you’re forming a business in Alabama, which has a name reservation requirement for all LLC formations. Otherwise, reserving a name in advance is probably a waste of time and money.
Can I Form an LLC Without Physically Being in the United States?
You sure can. In fact, just about anyone can form an LLC in America. You don’t need to be an American citizen or resident, you don’t need to have a physical presence in the U.S., etc. This is one of the reasons the LLC is so popular ― there are very few restrictions regarding who can form and operate an LLC.
Does ZenBusiness Handle State-Specific Requirements Like New York Publication and Alabama Name Reservation?
While many of their competitors leave you on your own to take care of state-specific compliance requirements, ZenBusiness sticks by your side, as they provide a wide variety of services on the state level. For example, here’s their description of their New York publication service. If you’re forming an LLC in a state with complex requirements, that’s no big deal for ZenBusiness.
What Is the ZenBusiness Customer Support Phone Number and Email?
Unfortunately, ZenBusiness does not provide either a phone number or an email address for customer support inquiries. In fact, the only way to contact their support representatives is by clicking the icon in the lower right-hand corner of each page on their website, which connects you to their live chat support system.
Does ZenBusiness Sell or Share My Information With Third Parties?
One of the ways some LLC formation services make money is by sharing your info with third-party partners under the guise of “free extras” or “special offers.” ZenBusiness is guilty of this as well, as you’ll notice that their upper-tier packages have features like “Free CPA consultation,” “Domain name registration,” “Xero accounting software,” and “Free insurance quote.” It’s important to understand that these “features” are actually just clever ways of sharing your info with other business entities.
If privacy is a concern for you and you want to use ZenBusiness, we would advise using one of their lower-tier packages that don’t include these features, or just telling them that you’d rather they exclude them from the package you purchase. Otherwise, we would like to recommend Northwest Registered Agent, as they don’t ever sell your info or push unnecessary add-ons.
I’ve Heard LLC Services Like LegalZoom Have a Lot of Upsells. Does ZenBusiness?
We tested the ZenBusiness ordering process to see how many upsells we encountered. We chose their free Basic plan, entered some personal information, and then began placing our order. As we worked our way through their order form, they attempted upsells to add an EIN ($70), registered agent service ($120/year), their Worry Free Guarantee ($120/year), an LLC operating agreement ($35), and two different expedited processing options priced at $50 and $100.
In short, there are quite a few upsells with ZenBusiness, especially considering the fact that every upsell they attempted throughout the ordering process is available in one of their other service packages ― if we wanted these features, we would have ordered a package that included them.
How Quickly Does ZenBusiness Process LLC Formations?
Most companies in this industry base their turnaround times on the actual requirements of each state, but ZenBusiness operates differently. Instead, their processing speeds are based on which level of service you order from them:
- Basic ($0): 4 weeks
- Starter ($10/month): 3-4 weeks
- Pro ($30/month): 1-2 weeks
- Premium ($60/month): 3-5 days
My LLC Needs an EIN but I’m Not Sure I Want to Pay $70. Is It Worth the Money?
It’s hard to answer this question in an objective manner, as it’s truly a matter of personal preference. We have always enjoyed the convenience of having our EIN confirmation in the same place as our LLC formation paperwork, so in our opinion it is worth the extra money. However, if you’re operating on a tight budget, you can obtain your own EIN for free from the IRS.